Trashigang’s lone waste entrepreneur
Inspired by his father, twenty-six year old Sangay Gempo from Silambi Gewog in Mongar is an entrepreneur who collects waste with an aim to keep the community clean and to make Trashigang one of the cleanest dzongkhags in the country.
“I was inspired by my father Samphel, who worked as an ambulance driver for the past 18 years in Trashigang hospital. Working towards clean environment and managing wastes was my father’s passion for a long time,” said Sangay Gempo.
“That’s when I came up with the idea that would benefit both the society and our environment,” he said.
Sangay decided to start the waste management firm in Trashigang as besides the municipal office in the dzongkhag, there was no one who actually took initiative in taking care of the waste and who took responsibility towards managing the wastes in the community.
In the beginning he planned to start a conventional business. But this required a huge startup cost.
However, in 2016, with the help of his father he started a small firm. “No one supported me and I faced several problems in establishing the firm. But it became possible with the help of my father’s retirement pension.”
He is the only entrepreneur in Trashigang collecting waste. His firm is known as Green Path.
The firm is located in Lungtenzampa between Trashigang and Ranjung highway and the firm was initially established in the year 2016.
Sangay has a pick-up truck to collect the waste and goes door to door to collect waste. He collects wastes twice a day.
He usually collects trash from all the 15 gewogs, hospitals, schools, corporations and all other kinds of organizations in Trashigang.
However, he said that due to lack of garbage trucks the firm is not able to collect more waste. “If we had additionalgarbage trucks to collect waste we could collect more wastes than what we are actually collecting today.”
Today, the firm has only one pick-up truck which collects the wastes.
In a day he can collect on average more than one ton of trash consisting of pet bottles, glass bottles, cardboards, e-waste and plastics.
The firm exports non-degradable wastes to India and the wastes like plastics and old tires are recycled into new products like flower pots and containers.
Sangay Gembo said that initially the business did not operate in full potential due to less manpower, inadequate machines, and lack of professional advocacy and limited financial support.
“My business doesn’t enjoy a massive cash flow but it does operate sustainably after all expenses it incurs.”
However, in 2018, with the help of Priority Sector Loan (PSL), the firm was fully established with required machines.
He mentioned that despite being looked down in the society for doing a literally messy job, he is happy and satisfied. “I work hard with determination and enjoy every single day.”
According to Sangay, the main challenge faced by the firm is limited finances and lack of support system.
He also said that the sustainability of the firm is one of the challenges. “If there is full support from the authorities, sustainability of the firm would not be a problem in a dzongkhag like Trashigang where there is mounting waste generation.”
Meanwhile, he plans to establish a waste drop-off center in every gewog of the dzongkhag in future to provide effective services to the community.
Jigme Wangchen from Tashigang